This may be a little trivia for you but you can drop it on the next person you meet. Let them know, September 29 is the feast day of St. Michael and All Angels. As you wait for their response and study their expression be prepared. Consider having a serious discussion on angels.
That may not be in your proverbial skillset nor are angels’ part of our current, everyday conversation. But let me qualify this blog by assuring you I have not gone off the deep-end. What is clear to me, however, is the experience of angels seems to be missing in the lives of many contemporary Christians. Consider it a loss.
Here is what is going on with me. This year, I began using a daily devotional entitled, A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God, edited by Mike Aquilla. It might sound weird but it really provides daily information which over time the thoughts and writings of people like St. Augustine, Tertullian, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom gradually form and inform a conversation around the reality of angels.
Notice the word “reality.” Angels are for real. Many of us count on the Bible for a deeper spiritual life. Take a moment and notice how often angels appear and when they show-up look at the result of their presence. Many of you have sat through the children’s Christmas pageant and we all hold our breath when Gabriel appears and hopefully speaks the memorized words to Mary. And then there are the shepherds. But go back to Moses and recall the story of the burning bush where an angel appears in the fire (Exodus 3:2-4) but it did not expire, rather it inspired as Moses took off his sandals and stood on holy ground.
Where I am going with this is when there are angels something holy is going on. Angels and holiness work together. Here again, “holy” seems to be a word that is missing in our everyday vocabulary. It is not about separating the secular from the holy in some dualistic manner. God’s holiness permeates our world and angels are sent to help us become aware or attentive to God’s presence in our lives.
I can’t tell you how many times I said these words prior to breaking bread: “Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying, Holy, holy, holy” Let those words sink in. Holy is not reserved for the church. Angels take holiness and run, or fly with it, or somehow open our heart, mind and soul to the revelation of God’s presence.
One recent example. I attended the funeral of a long-time friend of mine, Sam Miller. He died of lung cancer which he battled bravely for over five years. His funeral was held at St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Louisville. Sam surrendered his order in the Episcopal Church and the office of subdeacon had been conferred upon him in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. There I sat surrounded by traditional frescoes of icons revealing brilliant colors angel with saints and all the company of heaven. It was time to be open and let the angels carry Sam home and for me to be quiet and listen. Something greater was going on. It was more than I could ask for or imagine. I’m telling you thanks to the angels, it was holy.